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Google Executive Trades Virtualization For Virtual Reality

A top Google executive is switching his focus from business apps to virtual reality.

Amit Singh, who led Google’s push into workplace apps like Gmail and Google Drive, has been named the leader of the search giant’s nascent virtual reality unit.

Before Singh joined Google (GOOG) in 2010, he was an eight-year veteran of business technology giant Oracle, where he was vice president of sales. Google hired Singh as part of the company’s drive to sell cloud-software services to corporate clients.


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Over the past few years, Google has been trying to branch out to sell its services to businesses, an area where it stiff competition from enterprise technology titans like Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM), and Amazon (AMZN), whose AWS cloud computing business has growing rapidly in recent years.

In fall, Google hired another Silicon Valley veteran, Diane Greene, to lead all of its business-focused technologies including its email service and cloud computing business that sells data center capacity to clients so they don’t have to buy their own hardware.

It’s unclear why Singh was moved to the new role, especially one that seems far removed from the world of online documents and data storage. However, Google has been turning its attention to virtual reality and perhaps needed a veteran executive to lead the virtual reality unit into something more than just an experimental group.

Many companies from Facebook (FB) to Samsung to Sony see virtual reality as a potential big business, and Google seems to be no exception. Google said on Thursday that it’s now selling its virtual reality headset, Google Cardboard, in more countries, including the United Kindgom, Germany, France, and Canada.

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Compared to Facebook’s Oculus Rift or HTC’s Vive VR headsets, Google Cardboard is significantly cheaper, with a retail price of $15. However, the headset, which requires an Android phone to operate, is not nearly as powerful or as immersive as the higher-end devices that need personal computers to function.